toronto-ff-red-carpetWith the Venice Film Festival behind them, HFPA members are heading for Toronto where almost 400 films will be crammed into 11 days. By far the biggest of the fall festivals, it has shown the last six Best Picture winners and five of last year’s Best Foreign Film nominees.

The festival opens with the world premiere of The Fifth Estate, director Bill Condon‘s dramatic thriller about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which HFPA members will be attending. During the next six days they will see another 14 movies, visit the set of the TV series Hannibal and interview 36 actors, actresses and filmmakers.

This year the festival is showcasing an unusually wide variety of films, including Ron Howard‘s race car movie Rush; Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years as a Slave; Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet; The Railway Man with Colin Firth, The Dallas Buyers Club, which stars Matthew McConaughey and two upscale science fiction movies, starring Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin).

The Toronto festival has always served as a critical early stop for movies that will embark on significant awards campaigns in the fall. Last year Silver Linings Playbook and Argo both established themselves as potential hits and Golden Globe front-runners.


Sam Childers meeting with HFPA members

Hollywood Foreign Press members at the Toronto Film Festival chatted with Sam Childers, the real life Machine Gun Preacher who is portrayed by Gerard Butler in the film of the same name.

The former drug addict biker-turned-preacher from Pennsylvania who runs an orphanage in Sudan confessed that when he met Butler he was not sure that the actor was the right man to play him on screen. “He had a strong Scottish accent. Really strong,” he said. “But I have to say he really nailed me. He sounded just like me.”

Butler explained to members: “I watched him preach in church and I taped hours of conversations so I could listen to how he expresses himself. He’s such a fascinating guy and he has a lot of amazing stories.”